Pet owners guide to safe treats and chews for their pets

As treats and chews come in a variety of types and sizes, it’s important for owners to choose a chew appropriate in size and shape for their pet. Advise them they should always supervise their pet when eating it.

Some owners choose to feed their dogs raw bones. Smaller, softer bones, such as chicken wings or turkey necks are considered the easiest for healthy dogs to eat and digest.

Larger, denser bones, such as beef ribs, are more difficult for dogs to eat. These larger bones should only be given to larger, more experienced dogs used to eating bones, otherwise the potential for problems such as tooth fractures, constipation and injury is higher.

More specific advice on appropriate raw bone feeding choices for pets can be found on the websites of reputable raw pet food companies, such as those that are members of the PFMA.

If you are having a discussion with owners on bones, it is important to highlight that cooked bones are more likely to splinter than raw bones, as the cooking process makes them very dry and brittle. This can potentially increase the risk of injury, therefore giving cooked bones to dogs is generally not advised.

Some dogs who gulp their food at mealtimes can also be victims of choking. For these types of dogs, you can recommend that owners purchase a ‘slow bowl’ or ‘puzzle feeder’ which will slow down eating and encourage chewing. The addition of water to their food to soften it can also help prevent large morsels being inhaled.

Selecting suitable toys

  • When choosing toys for their dogs, owners need to consider their dog’s size and mouth type, to minimise the risk of them swallowing large pieces.
  • When buying puppy toys, remind owners that their dog’s size will change, so some toys might become unsuitable as they grow.
  • As toys age, they can also become more fragile and are more likely to break. Encourage owners to check the toys frequently to ensure they are still safe for them to play with.
  • If there are dogs of different sizes in the household, always ensure the toys are large enough for the biggest dog not to choke. Sometimes it can be important to separate multidog households when playing with certain toys and when feeding treats and chews, to prevent ‘resource-guarding’ behaviour and fighting between dogs.

Always supervise dogs with chews, treats and toys 

With all chews, treats and toys there is always the potential for large pieces to be swallowed whole, causing trauma or choking. The PFMA therefore advise that dogs are always supervised with toys, food, or other items they might want to chew or play with.

For more information on pet food and nutrition, please visit: www.pfma.org.uk


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